Fourth grade boys, teachers and administrators visited the expo which featured exhibits on a variety of DNA-related topics. Some were informational/learning stations that demonstrated what DNA is. In the hands-on “Extract Your Own DNA” presentation, the boys guided visitors in extracting DNA from their own saliva. Others, like “Take a Spin on the Centrifuge!” and “DNA Subway” were hands-on barcoding equipment stations.
Still more stations featured the results of the DNA barcoding work the boys recently performed on samples of their choice in order to test their hypotheses. Some of these results supported a team’s hypothesis, while others were surprising. (One group that sought to determine the quality of the beef in fast food and more expensive burgers, was surprised to find that the more expensive “gourmet” burgers were made of the same lower grade meat as the burgers of one fast food chain; while another fast food chain’s beef was superior.)
The boys were enthusiastic as they shared their learning, and they analyzed what might have caused their experiments to succeed or fail. One boy stressed that “experiments like this really need to be repeated over and over” to get good results; they have learned the importance of replication to validity and reliability in science.
The Expo was an exciting capstone experience for our young scientists, and a wonderful example of critical analysis in action at Saint David’s.